Ford has resurrected its storied Bronco nameplate in two versions -- Bronco and Bronco Sport. Or, as we like to think of them, “Original Recipe” and “Bronco Lite.” Here’s a look at each.
2021 FORD BRONCO
This is the “Original Recipe” version. Like the 1966-77 first-generation Bronco, the 2021 is an off-road tough, truck-based, 4WD SUV. When it arrives in showrooms, it will be offered in two- and -- in a first for Bronco -- four-door versions.
Clearly targeting the Jeep Wrangler, Bronco, in both versions, will boast body-on-frame construction, a solid rear axle and removable top and doors.
Trim levels include the base model, an owner-customizable, no-frills SUV; Big Bend, with some creature comforts; Black Diamond, which adds skid plates, rock rails and locking rear differential; Outer Banks, the toniest trim; Badlands, a roughneck challenger to Wrangler Rubicon; and Wildtrak, Bronco’s uber trail-tamer. Wildtrak gets as standard equipment a “Sasquatch” package, optional on other trims, that includes 35-inch tires, a 4.70 final-drive ratio, V-6, locking front and rear differentials, additional ground clearance, Bilstein dampers, bead-lock capable wheels and three inches of extra track width.
Look for the 2021 Bronco next spring, though Ford now is taking pre-orders online. A limited-run First Edition also is offered.
2021 FORD BRONCO SPORT
This is the one we think of as “Bronco Lite.” It’s a car-based, unibody, compact four-door crossover SUV that’s more in tune with the modern mass-market SUV buyer than is the standard truck-based Bronco. Although it is likely to be cross-shopped with the Jeep Compass, we think its boxy styling makes it more of a direct challenger to the Jeep Renegade.
Sharing its powertrains with the Ford Escape, Bronco Sport boasts all-wheel drive as standard issue in all trim levels, which include base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, First Edition and Badlands. Those last two -- the only Bronco Sports that boast this crossover’s more powerful, 2.0-liter turbo four (others get a turbo I-3) -- are analogous to Compass’s and Renegade’s off-road rugged Trailhawk versions. While all Bronco Sports boast drive modes of Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, First Edition and Badlands add choices of Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl.
Look for the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport to arrive in showrooms late this year, although Ford is now taking pre-orders online.
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